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Donald Lipski. Who Donald Lipski. Who Donald Lipski. Black by Popular Demand (installation view), 1990. Silk organza. 360 x 360 x 252 inches (914.4 x 914.4 x 640.08 cm). Collection of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. Photo credit: Dorothy Zeidman.
Donald Lipski. Who's Afraid of Red, White & Blue? American Flag Ball #2, 1990. Muslin. 32 inches (81.28 cm) (diameter). Photo credit: Will Brown.
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Donald Lipski. Who's Afraid of Red, White & Blue #31 (installation view), 1990. Nylon. 840 x 288 inches (2133.6 x 731.52 cm). Installation at University of the Arts, Philadelphia. Collection of the artist. Photo credit: Will Brown.
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Donald Lipski. Black by Popular Demand (installation view), 1990. Silk organza. 360 x 360 x 252 inches (914.4 x 914.4 x 640.08 cm). Collection of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. Photo credit: Dorothy Zeidman.
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Donald Lipski

In Who’s Afraid of Red, White & Blue, Donald Lipski used the American flag as his starting point to make a prolific series of sculptural projects. Using techniques of assemblage common to his oeuvre—such as wrapping, twisting, tying, and knotting— the artist worked with FWM to transform a shovel, a pair of scissors, a tree, and saw blades by wrapping them in American flags. Other projects included woven flags, flags made from various primary colors, a puzzle flag, and impressively, two large-scale flag installations. One, Who’s Afraid of Red, White & Blue #31, was created from translucent nylon and measured four-stories high; it was installed in the glass ceiling atrium of the Haviland Building of Philadelphia’s University of the Arts. Another, Black by Popular Demand, comprised two 40-foot flags made from silk organza and installed as intersecting diagonals at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Another series of sculptures, made in conjunction with students at Beaver College (now Arcadia University), involved wrapping and rolling cut bands of flags to make flag balls; one outdoor flag ball measured eight feet in diameter, while the Beaver College gallery was filled with thirteen balls, each measuring 2-1/2 feet in diameter.
 
By 1990, when Lipski’s project with FWM was completed and exhibited, a national debate raged about the sanctity of the American flag. A strong supporter of artistic expression, Donald Lipski wrote about this project in 1991:
 
When The Fabric Workshop approached me to do a project, I already had flags on my mind. With the federal court’s over throwing of a Texas statute that outlawed flag “desecration,” there was overwhelming sentiment for a federal law or even a constitutional amendment to “protect” the flag. I have long felt that anything in the world can be used to make art. The prospect that the flag be put out of bounds to me seemed foolish and un-American. So, I filled my studio with flags and went to work using them as I would any other material. Whatever statement is made by this work issues from the complexity of my often contradictory feelings for my country and my government. (Donald Lipski, The Fabric Workshop, Philadelphia, 1991)

Bio
American, born 1947, lives in New York City
Donald Lipski attended the University of Wisconsin, receiving his BA in 1970, before moving to Michigan to pursue graduate study at Cranbrook Academy of Art, where he earned his MFA in 1973. Lipski believes that art can be made from anything, and his range and combination of materials attests to this conviction—match books, car rots, paintbrushes, and Christmas trees are just a small sampling of objects transformed by the artist in his alchemical artistic practice. One-person exhibitions have been organized by the Miami Art Museum (2000), Capp Street Project in San Francisco (1993), and P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in Long Island City (1992). Lipski’s 1990 exhibition at the FW+M was organized jointly with Beaver College Art Gallery (now Arcadia University) and the University of the Arts. Public commissions include works for Grand Central Station (2000) and the entrance to Central Park (1997), both in New York City. Among his many awards are a Prix de Rome from the American Academy in Rome (1990), and a fellowship from the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (1988).